The S—— family was one of the richest in Wallachia, and consequently one of the most famous. The head of the family dictated to twelve boyars, collected hearth-money and tithes from four-and-fifty villages, lived nine months in the year at Stambul, held the Sultan’s bridle when he mounted his steed in time of war, contributed two thousand lands-knechts to the host of the Pasha of Macedonia, and had permission to keep on his slippers when he entered the inner court of the Seraglio.
In the year 1600 and something, George was the name of the first-born of the S—— family, but with him we shall not have very much concern. We shall do much better to follow the fortunes of the second born, Michael, whom his family had sent betimes to Bucharest to be brought up as a priest in the Seminary there. The youth had, however, a remarkably thick head, and, so far from making any great progress in the sciences, was becoming quite an ancient classman, when he suddenly married the daughter of a sub-deacon, and buried himself in a little village in Wallachia. There he spent a good many years of his life with scarce sufficient stipend to clothe him decently, and had he not tilled his soil with his own hands, he would have been hard put to it to find maize-cakes enough to live upon.